Have Roel Loopers’ insults wrecked an election campaign?
An article, published in The Conversation earlier this year, underlined unethical practices in journalism.
The author, Denis Muller, opens with the comment:
“An integral power of the media is that of portrayal: the act of determining how people, events, ideas and organisations are described to the public, and therefore how they are perceived by the public”.
Thus, if we are to accept freedom of speech within our mainstream media, which operates under a code of professional ethics, should we apply the same ethics to the writers of blogs?
Blogs are excellent vehicles for local, national and international comment but some lack the basic tenets of social respect let alone the laws of defamation.
The incumbent Mayor of Fremantle, Dr Brad Pettitt, has said:
“I like that Fremantle has a vibrant blogging scene. It is hard to think of any other community that has so many active bloggers and I think, despite my regular frustrations with inaccuracies etc, it is a whole lot more a positive than negative.That said I’d like blogs (just as I’d like the Fremantle Herald and Gazette) to talk to me or the relevant person before going to print if they have questions or concerns. The instant nature of blogs means this rarely happens which is – to be polite – somewhat challenging at times”.
Shock Jock Tactics: Loopers’ Crass Insults
In recent weeks, during the current campaign for positions on Fremantle’s council and the two-way contest for the Mayor’s job, a local blogger has descended into little more than shock jock tactics and crass hypocrisy. Comments with little or no intelligent input have been bandied about and may have been instrumental in derailing one candidate’s campaign.
Fremantle has become ‘blog central’. Most of the city’s bloggers make intelligent, well considered, comments. They make no exaggerated claims as to their worth in the community but proceed in a respectful manner and make the most of Australia’s right of free speech. In Fremantle we have, in addition to the more intelligent input, the ‘Shock Blogger” or “The Dodgy Blogger” who, for reasons best known to him, tends to shoot from the lip. He has been noted as being a poor man’s impersonation of Alan Jones.
Regular outbursts have seen a number of people who do not toe his line of thought or have remote disagreements with him, labelled, bullies, cowards and liars et al while he hides behind right of free speech espousing his theories of social decency.
Bullshit Mr Loopers
Roel Loopers, who claims Freo’s View is the city’s ‘most popular blog’ has to stand accused of “Bullshit”.
Let it now be levelled at him the fact that he is a liar, a choker and a well polished hypocrite. Maybe not go so far as calling him a Nazi and coward as he did with a mayoral candidate. But ‘coward’ may be appropriately applied to Loopers – a person with a penchant for pathetically begging for work in the face or his openly admitted failures while condemning successful people as ‘dead beats and has beens’.
Loopers apparently spits the dummy at every opportunity. In the face of opposition candidates emerging in City Ward he broke his repeated public promise to stand for council offering no explanation. Is that cowardice or just simply being afraid to face competition – chickening out? It should be remembered that he persuaded a potential president of the Fremantle Society from running for the job, telling people he could do better but would only run if he did so unopposed. In the event he was ineffectual and said so in his note at the time of his (second) resignation, complaining that nobody listened to him and he was tired of banging his head against a brick wall.
Or was that dummy spit simply because the society had ceased to become useful to him when their accommodation facility had come to an end?
Did ‘Lickspittle’ Loopers Derail Democracy?
In the face of Loopers accusing Hanssen of being a coward he did not take into account the candidate’s repeated attempts at facing voters to gain public positions, often ridiculing his election promises without offering alternative ideas. Had he forgotten that Matthew Hanssen had made Fremantle a marginal seat in this years state election, gaining about 40% of the popular vote? Politics aside Hanssen cannot be accused of choking but has to be credited with his persistence and rugged determination. Nor should his policies be dismissed. Many of them have broad popular support.
Loopers has emerged as little more than a lickspittle, a person with an obsequious attitude to people in positions of authority or who may be useful to his relentless, narcissistic, drive for popularity.
He was looking forward to preening his self admitted ego by being a mediator in a mayoral debate. That narcism was quashed when Matthew Hanssen objected to Loopers mediating. It is arguable that Loopers’ constantly changing opinions and frequently being forced into apologising for so many errors of fact, not to mention public insults of successful people, made him the least suitable choice of mediator. And from then onwards The Dodgy Blogger took every opportunity to attack the candidate. It is arguable that Loopers has derailed the very democratic process he claims to love. His vitriol and demonstrable lies, as well as accusations of bullying against people who challenge him, are becoming legendary.
Did Loopers’ attacks derail Hanssen’s campaign? Matthew Hanssen was offended by the behaviour of previous audiences and reasonably asked for several changes to be made to the debate’s structure. He was deeply offended by Loopers’ remarks and it is reasonable to assume that a general accumulation of biased insults may have prompted Hanssen’s ‘no show’. Arguably a very important part of our democratic system was derailed because of Loopers rants. By making them he demonstrated his crass hypocrisy.
Hanssen has refrained from detailed comment and Dr Pettitt, effectively given a free kick, chose not to use it to attack his opponent. It is a pity that the process became flawed by ill considered comments. It is in the hands of organisers of future debates to tread very carefully when it comes to choosing mediators.
“He (Loopers) will stoop to whatever low necessary …”
How can Loopers, in virtually the same breath, justifiably attack people who deface Matthew Hanssen’s election posters, caricaturing him as Hitler and then, in a contemptible attack on the candidate’s character, liken Hanssen to Nazis and call him a coward? That would at least be offensive and, in the extreme, defamatory. The insult was published by Loopers in a widely circulated email. Matthew Hanssen has revealed to Backchat:
“I was sent the rather unnecessary email from Loopers directly to my email account and it went to all of the organisers of the previously scheduled meeting. It was the one which made reference to me being a Nazi. I responded via email with the fact I was offended and that he should otherwise stop. I haven’t received an email from him since”.
” … obviously Loopers motivation is to see the Mayor re-elected. He will stoop to whatever lows he feels are necessary to achieve that”
In a reference to Loopers becoming a mediator Hanssen continued:
“if you cannot run a civilised debate, in the forum of the Chamber of Commerce boardroom, run by the CEO [Tim Milsom] then what chance have you got when Loopers is organising it”
It is surprising that Hanssen hasn’t taken legal action. It is known Loopers retreats when action is threatened.
Don’t be afraid to challenge dodgy blogs
It is time for those people who tolerate or endorse Loopers, feed his ego and dangerous narcism, to recognise him for what he is. But there seems to be a fear of taking him on, of questioning his stands. One commentator has said:
“People are reluctant to take him on because they are afraid of him posting adverse comments about them”.
That commentator offered a justifiable reason. He pointed out, for example, that if a person was applying for a job and the prospective employer conducted web search for background information and found something damaging written by Roel Loopers, it could wreck a chance of employment.
There is nothing to fear – The Dodgy Blogger’s figures are misleading
However, Loopers’ blog readership is not all it’s cracked up be. He frequently claims that his blog has had a new record number of hits. And so it may. But Loopers fixation with posting about 8-10 blogs a day leads to a high ‘readership’ which he implies without looking at the statistics correctly. For example, if he posts 10 ‘stories’ a day and the same 200 people hit on them, that counts as 2000 hits. Thus, by any analysis he probably only has about 250 to 300 viewers. Barely enough to be reckoned with and not enough to fear.
NOTE: Previous Fremantle Backchat blogs are on Fremantlebackchat.com.
That blog site has been changed and older blogs will be moved to this site: